Undeniable, the Prado is one of the major attractions of Madrid. Being among the oldest and the most significant art museums in the world, it currently holds about 30 000 artworks. Its exposition is so vast that a selective approach perhaps is the best way to see it.
The highest artistic peaks of the Prado mark the most famous canvases of Spanish artists - "Las Meninas" ("The Maids of Honour") of Diego Velázquez and "La maja desnuda" and "La maja vestida" ("The Nude Maja" and "The Clothed Maja"), the two most sensuous masterpieces of Francisco Goya. The Prado Museum boasts the world's largest collection of Goya, in fact - 135 paintings! Aside from the already mentioned ones, it holds many more marvelous works - lyrical and pastoral "The Autumn" and "The Grape Harvest", harshly documental "Executions of the Third of May 1808", showing a shooting of rebels, a rather non-flattering "The Family of Charles IV" and few terrifying ones - "The Fire", "The Colossus" and "Saturn Devouring His Son". There are several more Velázquezes as well - "The Surrender of Breda", "The Equestrian portrait of Count-Duke de Olivares" and "The Drunkards or the Triumph of Bacchus". Tragic, asthenic figures of saints belong to hand of El Greco in his intensely impressive, even haunting paintings. The Prado houses some of the best woks of less celebrated Spanish painters as well, with Zurbaran, Murillo and Carreno de Miranda being among them. Flemish master Hieronymus Bosch fascinates with human pleasures and horrors in his "The Garden of Earthly Delights" and "The Seven Deadly Sins", leaving us to wonder - has the author been prophetic or possessed? "The Triumph of the Death" by Peter Bruegel the Elder is a work not to be missed either. The Prado has a considerable collection of Italian masters Rafael, Caravaggio, and remarkably expressive canvases of Titian, especially "The Worship of Venus", a quaint motif that seems to be taken from Greek author Philostratus. Unlike many others, Rembrandt is represented just by one, yet truly brilliant work - a portrait of Artemisia, a wife of Mausolus, an ancient ruler of Caria.
The new Prado extension, opened in October 30, 2007, is designed by the Spanish architect Rafael Moneo. Outwardly, the red-brick pavilion resembles a villa or a library of the 30s of the 20th century, yet, like an iceberg, it shows off only a small part of it. A magnificent space inside proves Moneo's great passion for design and features "quotations" from the old Prado, like massive doors, for example. Rafael Moneo has infused a genuine Prado spirit into his new creation, making a viewer perfectly aware of the unity of both buildings. The huge windows of the spacious modern foyer overlook a baroque style gallery Villanueva. Wonderful gardens remind that the Prado building initially housed a centre for scientific, botanical and zoological studies and serve as a connecting element, too.
Paseo del Prado
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Keywords: Madrid, museum